A tragedy on the Pali Highway just two years ago changed the lives of two families forever.
On May 5, 2013, 13-year-old Kamalani Kalama was a riding home with a friend. Her friend’s father, 33-year-old Mark Garcia, was behind the wheel and intoxicated, when he crashed their vehicle into this tree. Garcia and Kamalani did not survive, but Garcia’s daughter lived.
“I get times where I just cry ’cause I can’t handle it. Just a song or a thought or someone else that just brings the memories back to me. And I just break down because the pain is still there,” said Jeremiah Kalama, the father of Kamalani.
On Sunday, family and friends took to the streets in Kailua. They waved signs to remind drivers to be responsible.
“You got proms coming up, you got graduation parties coming up. And of course, everybody’s gonna drink. But all we trying to bring is just be responsible and bring awareness. When you get in the car and you drinking, don’t drive,” said Jeremiah.
“If I can advocate for her, she lives on. She will live on in all our hearts. Because we’re making a difference,” said Jackie Kalama, the mother of Kamalani.
Kamalani’s family wants young adults to know they have a choice when it comes to getting into a car with someone who may be intoxicated
“Regardless if it’s at 12 o’clock, one o’clock, 2 o’clock in the morning. Pick up that phone and call your parents. ‘Cause you know why? They would want you home safely. When you leave it up to somebody else, you taking a chance,” said Jeremiah.
“When you take a wheel, you’re taking lives not only in your automobile, but people around you. So just be more considerate. And children, don’t be afraid to call for a ride,” said Jackie.
The Kalamas believe advocating for Kamalani helps with the healing. So they’ve teamed up with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).
“Make a plan ahead of time. Get a designated driver. Take a taxi. There’s all kinds of options. But you don’t need to get behind the wheel of a car because you’re a danger on the road and you could be deadly,” said Theresa Paulette of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.